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September 2018

In Monthly Book Selection on July 5, 2018 at 9:09 am

the blame game

From the publisher:

The blame game, with its finger-pointing and mutual buck-passing, is a familiar feature of politics and organizational life, and blame avoidance pervades government and public organizations at every level. Political and bureaucratic blame games and blame avoidance are more often condemned than analyzed. In The Blame Game, Christopher Hood takes a different approach by showing how blame avoidance shapes the workings of government and public services. Arguing that the blaming phenomenon is not all bad, Hood demonstrates that it can actually help to pin down responsibility, and he examines different kinds of blame avoidance, both positive and negative.

Hood traces how the main forms of blame avoidance manifest themselves in presentational and “spin” activity, the architecture of organizations, and the shaping of standard operating routines. He analyzes the scope and limits of blame avoidance, and he considers how it plays out in old and new areas, such as those offered by the digital age of websites and e-mail. Hood assesses the effects of this behavior, from high-level problems of democratic accountability trails going cold to the frustrations of dealing with organizations whose procedures seem to ensure that no one is responsible for anything.

Delving into the inner workings of complex institutions, The Blame Game proves how a better understanding of blame avoidance can improve the quality of modern governance, management, and organizational design.

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October 2018

In Monthly Book Selection on July 5, 2018 at 9:08 am

collaborating with the enemy

From the publisher:

Often, to get something done that really matters to us, we need to work with people we don’t agree with or like or trust. Adam Kahane has faced this challenge many times, working on big issues like democracy and jobs and climate change and on everyday issues in organizations and families. He has learned that our conventional understanding of collaboration—that it requires a harmonious team that agrees on where it’s going, how it’s going to get there, and who needs to do what—is wrong. Instead, we need a new approach to collaboration that embraces discord, experimentation, and genuine cocreation—which is exactly what Kahane provides in this groundbreaking and timely book.

November 2018

In Monthly Book Selection on July 5, 2018 at 9:05 am

peoplevdemocracy

From the publisher:

The world is in turmoil. From Russia, Turkey, and Egypt to the United States, authoritarian populists have seized power. As a result, democracy itself may now be at risk.

Two core components of liberal democracy―individual rights and the popular will―are increasingly at war with each other. As the role of money in politics soared and important issues were taken out of public contestation, a system of “rights without democracy” took hold. Populists who rail against this say they want to return power to the people. But in practice they create something just as bad: a system of “democracy without rights.” The consequence, as Yascha Mounk shows in this brilliant and timely book, is that trust in politics is dwindling. Citizens are falling out of love with their political system. Democracy is wilting away. Drawing on vivid stories and original research, Mounk identifies three key drivers of voters’ discontent: stagnating living standards, fear of multiethnic democracy, and the rise of social media. To reverse the trend, politicians need to enact radical reforms that benefit the many, not the few.

The People vs. Democracy is the first book to describe both how we got here and what we need to do now. For those unwilling to give up either individual rights or the concept of the popular will, Mounk argues that urgent action is needed, as this may be our last chance to save democracy.